Watershed Blog

The Day We Went For A Swim Before Big Mama

By David Kashinski,
I use my Watershed bags on all of the rowing and kayak trips that I do each season. In October and November I did a Rio Maranon trip in Peru.  We chose to start at 13,000′ at Laguna Lauricocha and had to paddle about 50 miles to the confluence of the Rios Lauricocha and Napo that form the Rio Maranon.  About 800 miles down stream of that, the Maranon meets the Rio Yulicali and becomes the Rio Amazona!
Since we were doing a 30 day and 500 mile river trip, I ended up stuffing two Futa Stow Floats, an old school Futa stow float, and an Ocoee Drybag into the back of my Eskimo Cerro kayak!  Yes, four drybags, since the Eskimo Kayaks were manufactured to be used without a pillar.  My partner on the trip was coveting my old school Futa stow float because of the longer length and extra storage for the longer boat.
On day 13, at 9,800′ my partner and I were working our way down river and were anticipating a long arduous portage of a rapid that they call Big Mama. Paddling on an inflated flow, the normally class IV section became big volume technical class V!  My skirt imploded in a wave, my boat sank away from me, and I was able to swim to the left shore less than 100′ before going into Big Mama.  I would not have survived the swim through Big Mama!  That day we were able to rule out an exit from the canyon on river left where I made it to shore.  The walls were beyond our climbing ability, and the consequences on the river was no where that I wanted to swim again to try to cross. I was stuck.
My partner returned six days later with the rope and people necessary to set up a Tyrolean traverse to get me safely across the river to the right side where I could hike out! We had chosen a big adventure with huge consequences and I became the victim of those consequences when I watched my kayak enter Big Mama!
My partner and I were only about 15 miles from a tributary of the Maranon called the Rio Pushka. This is where a majority of the Rio Maranon trips start, and there is only the one portage of Wasson’s Slide in the remaining 400 miles down to the take out. Hopefully my partner and I can get back to finish our trip someday!
Also take note when flying with your “windsurfer” on United Airlines.  If the “windsurfer” exceeds the baggage length allowed, take it to the parking lot, drive over the back, fold it in half, and check it in!  Next stop, Lima!
Hopefully you are having a great winter and your crew is getting out to enjoy the rivers when the water comes!
David Kashinski